The Big Ten/ACC Challenge is back!
The 14th annual women's basketball challenge will resume after it was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Starting Wednesday, Dec. 1, and Thursday, Dec. 2, we are set for 14 marquee matchups between two of the most competitive conferences in the country. In 2019, the Big Ten won the challenge over the ACC with a record of 9-5.
The Big Ten hosts four of the top-10 scoring offenses in the nation — Ohio State (1), Iowa (3), Nebraska (5) and Maryland (9). As for the ACC, this conference hosts three of the top-5 scoring defenses in the nation — Louisville (2), Georgia Tech (4), North Carolina (5). It's going to be fun to see these Big Ten opponents face off against its ACC foes.
Here's one thing you should know about all 14 matchups of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge:
Georgia Tech at Purdue: Georgia Tech's head coach Nell Fortner will return to the Boilermaker building she coached in during the 1996-97 season, but this time as the opposing coach now in her third year with the Yellow Jackets. During Coach Fortner's time at Purdue, she was 17-11 overall and 12-4 in conference play, which earned her Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.
UNC at Minnesota: These two teams faced off in the 2017-18 season during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge when UNC came out victorious, 88-83. In fact, UNC has a 4-1 record over Minnesota, but this time around the Gophers will have home-court advantage. The last four meetings were played in Chapel Hill and one game in 2016 was hosted in the Bahamas. The Tar Heels will look to keep an unblemished record, currently 6-0.
Ohio State at Syracuse: The Buckeyes are currently the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation with a flawless 7-0 record. However, the Buckeyes will have its first road test of the season facing Syracuse. Ohio State will look to continue its dominance over Syracuse, leading the series 10-1.
Nebraska at Wake Forest: Two 7-0 teams will meet in the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge! To make things more interesting, it's the first time ever in series history these two teams will face off. Nebraska only has Pitt left to check off of its ACC list. Wake Forest hasn't played a Big Ten opponent since the 2018-19 season. Of course, both teams will look to remain unbeaten, but one must fall after the conclusion of this matchup.
Rutgers at Pitt: Both teams are coming off of competing in the Paradise Jam during the Thanksgiving weekend tournament. However, Rutgers and Pitt never faced each other while in the U.S. Virgin Islands last week. Rutgers is looking to snap a three-game losing streak from the Paradise Jam, while Pitt is coming off of a heartbreaker against South Dakota in OT. Pitt knocked off another Big Ten opponent Northwestern in the tournament and hopes to do the same against the Scarlet Knights.
Virginia Tech at Wisconsin: Wisconsin will have its hands full with one of the best duo's in the country Elizabeth Kitley and Aisha Sheppard. Kiley is currently the ACC's leader in points and No. 3 in rebounds and Sheppard is No. 2 in field goal percentage in the ACC and was one of the top three-point shooters in the nation last season. The series is tied between these two teams with Virginia Tech taking the last win in 2012.
NC State at Indiana: A Sweet 16 rematch from the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament is brewing when NC State travels to Indiana. How sweet would revenge be for the Wolfpack to defeat the Hoosiers on its home court? But of course, the focus comes down to what happens in March, but this will be a great test for NC State, a team that went up against two top-10 opponents.
Iowa at Duke: The Hawkeyes will resume play after suffering a three-game cancellation due to positive tests found within the program. Iowa hopes to come in with little to no rust going up against a tough Duke team, who hit the transfer jackpot during the offseason. This will be the second time these two teams meet. Duke only played four games last season and ended its season due to Covid-19 concerns; however, this will be its first top-10 test this year under second-year head coach Kara Lawson. Expect tons of offense in this matchup with the top offensive teams in its respective conference.
Miami at Maryland: The Terps are coming off of a tough week against top-10 opponents due to a limited bench plagued by illnesses and injuries. Even though Miami isn't ranked that does not mean they will not cause continued problems for Maryland. The Hurricanes almost knocked off another Big Ten foe Indiana in its last matchup, 53-51. Maryland will look to remain resilient, despite adversity.
Michigan at Louisville: Who's ready for a great paint battle? Louisville's Olivia Cochran will be tasked with shutting down the Big Ten Player of the Year Naz Hillmon down low. The last time these two teams met was in the second round of the 2019 NCAA tournament when Louisville defeated Michigan, 71-50. This showdown will be one of two top-25 battles on Friday.
For the 5th time in her career, @nazhillmon was named the Big Ten Player of the Week.— Michigan Women’s Basketball (@umichwbball) November 29, 2021
▪️ 3 double-doubles
▪️ 21.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg
▪️ Moved into 2nd place all-time at U-M w/38 career double-doubles
▪️ 3 Michigan wins
More: https://t.co/2p6lq1Sk6s#GoBlue pic.twitter.com/y7qSFbljdM
Notre Dame at Michigan State: Both teams are coming into this matchup on a five-game winning streak. The backcourt of this battle highlights two prolific three-point shooters Dara Mabrey vs. Nia Clouden, while Michigan State's Tamara Farquhar and Notre Dame's Maya Dodson and Maddy Westbeld will battle in the paint.
Northwestern at Clemson: This is the third time Northwestern and Clemson will face off in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but fourth time meeting in series history. Northwestern will look to its all-around guard and backcourt thief Veronica Burton, who's the Big Ten's third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year and top-10 scorer. But the Wildcats will have to find an answer on how they will keep Clemson's go-to scorer and rebounder Delicia Washington off the boards. Washington has helped the Tigers to be one of the premier teams in the nation on the offensive glass.
Penn State at Boston College: This Big Ten-ACC series has always come down to the wire in its two appearances, so far. Penn State lost to Boston College in overtime, 113-104 in 2010, but won by four points its last meeting back in 2016. Boston College will have its hands full with the Big Ten's lead scorer Marisa McKenna, who averages 22.4 points per game. However, Boston College also has a scoring gem in Taylor Soule, who is No. 3 in the ACC in points.
Florida State at Illinois: Florida State has suffered two back-to-back upsets against BYU and Purdue. The Seminoles will look to avenge its loss against another Big Ten opponent when they face Illinois, who is also trying to snap a two-game losing streak. This will be a fun matchup to watch between Illinois' led scorer Aaliyah Nye and Florida State's go-to player Morgan Jones.